Spy whale: Has this beluga whale been trained to spy?

Beluga whale

The incident comes as Russia's growing military activity in the Arctic raises concerns with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and its allies.

The harness-wearing beluga was spotted by fishermen in Norway. He further said the whale was not for scientific experiment/studying, as was confirmed to him by the Russian researchers when he contacted them. The Beluga then swam away.

The harness had "Equipment of St. Petersburg" written on it and had a mount for a camera on it, Joergen Ree Wiig of the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries said, according to ABC News.

Audun Rikardsen, an arctic and marine biology professor at the department of arctic the Arctic University of Norway, also spoke to the Norwegian national broadcaster Russian Navy keeping whales in captivity.

Rikardsen told ABC that scholars in Russian Federation and Norway haven't reported any program to train and utilize beluga whales for military purposes.

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A Russian reserve colonel called Viktor Baranets has been interviewed by a Russian TV station talking about the whale, and he said: "if we were using this animal for spying do you really think we'd attach a mobile phone number with the message "please call this number"?" "They tell me that most likely is the Russian navy in Murmansk", he added. According to the people who found it, the beluga was trying to approach the fishing boats when it was caught on film.

The Russian military is reportedly renewing its Cold War-era training of marine mammals, considering such animals useful tools in defending naval bases, assisting military divers and even attacking intruders, The Guardian explained. While that in itself might be interesting, the beluga in question was outfitted with a harness. Since the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea, the Kremlin has been behind a series of creepy reminders of the massive military apparatus lurking on Europe's eastern outskirts: mystery submarines, unidentified jets that nearly crashed with a passenger plane in at least one instance, and unusual troop movements.

"We have military dolphins for combat roles, we don't cover that up", he told the BBC.

But the base closed after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Animals are trained to detect enemy sea mines, to protect ports and to recover objects from the sea bed.

The United States has also used dolphins for military purposes, such as rescuing lost swimmers.

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